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Bill to Help People, Municipalities in Landslide-Prone Areas Advances

Helping citizens and communities mitigate or recover from major catastrophic events, such as those caused by landslides, is precisely where government assistance should be applied.

Tuesday, in a bipartisan effort, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee advanced legislation I authored, along with Rep. Emily Kinkead (D-Allegheny), that would create a new insurance program for homeowners living in landslide-prone areas. The measure also would provide assistance to local governments that wish to mitigate the risk of landslides within their communities.

Landslides pose a significant threat to our communities, causing property damage and putting lives at risk. This bill seeks to provide much-needed financial protection to homeowners and municipalities that face these natural disasters.

Remember, damage from landslides is not covered under normal homeowners insurance, so this is an area where the average homeowner is often “on his or her own.” The expense can be overwhelming.

Homeowners are on edge literally, financially and emotionally as they fear their homes may be the subject of a collapse.

House Bill 589 would add coverage of landslides and slope movement to an existing program in the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that currently only covers mine subsidence assistance and insurance.

Rep. Kinkead and I have held town hall meetings and invited experts in the field to testify about this serious issue. Each testifier said this has been an ongoing concern to homeowners in western Pennsylvania. Funding is a big problem. Counties cannot do this alone. It is imperative that local, county state and federal officials work together in order to protect the people.

In January, we visited residents who were affected by a landslide after heavy rainstorms. Some residents were asked to abandon their homes for safety precautions.

Western Pennsylvania is susceptible to landslides because of two natural geological characteristics:
  •   The bedrock land composition, consisting mainly of incompetent mud rocks, such as silty shales and clay stones that weather easily.
  •   The regional topography consisting of steep slopes.

The legislation promotes responsible development and homeownership by offering a safety net against unforeseen natural disasters. It encourages sustainable land use practices and provides incentives for property owners to invest in mitigation efforts, ultimately reducing the overall risk posed by landslides.

Approval of House Bill 589 by the members of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is a big step toward getting this legislation to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk. The bill now moves on to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Please watch my comments as I explained the importance of the bill to the committee.
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District Office:
1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
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Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com